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|October 23, 1997||
For Tina Ambani, life has always been a process of choosing what she wants to do rather than compromising with what she has to. As a 15-year-old school girl she received an offer that dreams are made of. On the basis of a fashion spread she had done for Femina, she was selected to represent India at the International Teen Princess contest at Aruba. The return ticket was paid for and her wardrobe was created by the designer boutique Vama
Out in the world for the first time and on her own, young Tina did very well: she garnered the Miss Photogenic and Miss Bikini awards and came third after Miss Iran and Miss Venezuela. On her return, Femina proudly put her on their cover and thereby opened a door that would take her into a new, extended direction. "Dev Anand was looking for a young girl to play the role of a bride in his movie, Des Pardes," she recalls. "It was based in England with the theme of illegal immigrants, and when he saw my photographs, he called me through a common friend and asked me if I'd like to act in movies. I honestly told him I hadn't thought about it yet. At that time, I was planning to a course in fashion design in Paris. I remember telling my father that I didn't want to do films because he'd promised to send me to Paris. He said, "Why not give acting a try and if you don't enjoy it you don't have to do another film. I wouldn't want you to turn around after a few years and say that I discouraged you."
Still only 16 when she entered the studio that would become her world for the next decade, she completed two years of college education during the shooting of Des Pardes. Then one day, the urge to see life beyond the studio walls came over her. "I felt that I wasn't getting enough satisfaction, even though the roles were the best that a girl could get in those days. People say I gave up because I wasn't doing well. This wasn't true. I knew I had reached my peak as an actress. And I wanted other mountains to climb. I wasn't the top star, but then I wasn't a starlet either!"
Leaving the glamour of cinema, she bravely left for California to complete her long overdue college education In 1991 she returned to India and later married Anil Ambani, the scion of a leading industrial house, Reliance
Excerpted from Pride of India by Persis Khambatta, Rs 1495, Parijat Media Limited, with the publishers permission. Special copies, signed by many of the Miss Indias and priced at Rs 5000, are also available. The proceeds of this special copies will go to the Missionaries of Charity.
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